NEW YORK — Bonhams will auction the breathtaking "Montana Duelling Dinosaurs" on November 19, with an estimate of $7,000,000-9,000,000. The two virtually complete dinosaur skeletons, a carnivore and a herbivore, were found fossilised together in Hell Creek, Montana in 2006. Dubbed the "Duelling Dinos," the specimens are preserved in a sensational pre-historic death match between predator and prey.
The dinosaurs have been identified as a Nanotyrannus lancensis, a close relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a new species of Chasmosaurine Ceratopsian (similar to a Triceratops). Both would have stood about eight feet high and measured between 25 and 35 feet long. The fully articulated skeletons show the well-matched foes were locked in mortal combat, each inflicting fatal wounds on the other. Nanotyrannus teeth are present in the skull of the Chasmosaurine, while the Nanotyrannus' skull and chest appear to have been crushed laterally, as though kicked. The remarkable state of the skeletons indicates the pair was buried very shortly after the fatal struggle.
The "Duelling Dinos" have the potential to radically advance modern palaeontology, and illuminate the mysteries of life during the Cretaceous Age. Their superb preservation in fine-grain, loosely consolidated sandstone allowed them to remain intact despite the weight of the sediment that buried them. The specimens were removed in large, plaster-jacketed sections of earth, safeguarding the spatial relationships in which the bones were found. Both dinosaurs also exhibit extremely rare preserved soft (skin) tissue, offering spectacular possibilities for cellular research.
Additionally, the "Duelling Dinos" may hold the key to answering one of the most puzzling questions for palaeontologists today. Presently, researchers are divided over whether Nanotyrannus' are their own genus, or whether they are simply juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rexes. The Nanotyrannus involved in the "Duelling Dinos" is only the second example ever found, and by far the most complete, offering the best hope to date of answering this pressing scientific question.
"Offering the 'Duelling Dinos' at Bonhams in November is the highlight of my career. They are one of the most significant dinosaur discoveries ever in North America," said Thomas E. Lindgren, Co-Consulting Director of the Natural History Department at Bonhams, an internationally recognised expert and lecturer with nearly 30 years of experience. "The importance of this discovery cannot be overstated."
Bonhams will offer the "Duelling Dinos" on November 19 in New York. They will open for preview in New York on November 14.
(Image: An artist's model of the Montana Duelling Dinosaurs based on geographical placement of the fossils.
Image courtesy of Black Hills Institute of Geological Research Inc. and Katie Busch, Owner/Partner CK Preparations)
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com